Spoiler alert: Most of this review is actually a rant about Quentin Tarantino.
Tell me honestly: how in the world does a film like this make the best of anything list, let alone the Oscars? Was it really such a good idea to let crap like this into consideration with the expansion from five to ten nominees? This film and "District 9" (my review) were my two least favorite films of the group and I have no idea why they're in the list. The only reason I watched this film was because I committed to review all the Best Picture nominees. Next time, I'll just pass.
I'm well aware that some people have an appreciation for Mr. Tarantino's works. I am not one of them. I've tried. Not hard but I have tried.
After "Reservoir Dogs" I've never gone to a theater to see one of his films although I have rented a few in an attempt to see what everyone likes about his movie making. It's not that I don't like violent films - I write them myself - I just don't get this guy and his ahem "artistic" sensibilities. Plus, there's a lot of good information that he heavily "borrows" a lot of his material from other sources. Don't get me started on where I think he got his "Kill Bill" story - I'd have to point you at one of my movies and how similar his is to mine which was done years before and he did know about because we were both at the same film company at the time.
Yes, okay - maybe it's sour grapes. I admit that he's got the sort of career I dream about. But then again, so do a lot of other people who I don't dislike as much.
Enough about my Tarantino rant. Let's talk about this movie.
Why? Why make this film? Did it tell us anything we already didn't know? No. Did it illuminate the War in any fashion? No. Did it teach me anything - anything - about myself or the human condition? Please. Does it show American soldiers being sociopathic killers and torturers? Yes. And that is really an affront to every American, but especially the soldiers who fought this war. And for crap's sake, it rewrote history! Hitler and his high command killed in a theater explosion? Do you fully appreciate the idiocy of that?
Lighten up - I can already hear you saying. It's made to be tongue in cheek. Don't you get the joke? No, I don't. The only joke here that is consistently funny is that anyone found any value in this movie.
Let's see if I can synopsize it for you: A group of serial killer Americans led by a serial killer commander choose to go to Germany and kill Germans in the most horrific fashion imaginable in order to scare the crap out of them. Fun. I'm getting the joke now.
Morally bankrupt, overly tedious and way too long, Tarantino falls into the same traps in this film he has always fallen into. He is too in love with himself to cut his scenes or his insanely long and boring dialogue - I'm shocked this wasn't a two-parter like the simple-minded, overlong "Kill Bill." Why not pack it with even more extraneous garbage that doesn't make any sense?
I confess. There isn't much that Tarantino could have done, based on his previous work, to convince me that this would have been worth my time. I did struggle to keep an open mind - and failed. The introductory scenes just left me dead inside (or asleep maybe.) Who exactly am I supposed to like in this film? I guess the girl Shosanna (Melanie Laurent) whose family is killed in the beginning and...hmmm. No one else.
I mean, seriously - defend these scenes and ideas someone:
- These very smart and clever men who are so good at what they do suddenly go stone stupid and make a plan that has no chance of succeeding. It's so clever that in five seconds the Landa character (Christoph Waltz) has sussed it out.
- The bar scene - wha..?
- The "war paint" scene where Shosanna puts on her "armor" (makeup) before going to battle. Tre' clever. Haven't seen anything like that before in a hundred other films.
- The awkward nitrate film explanation scene inserted with a once-only voiceover narrative and black and white film footage to us how explosive nitrate film stock is. Let's see - can't think of any other way to do this so I'll just jam in a one-time v.o. and break fourth wall. Now that's filmmaking.
- And who told Eli Roth he could act? Both he and Brad Pitt looked like they had gas through most of this film and Pitt seriously looked like he was channeling the Don Corleone character from "The Godfather" with his jaw struck in some ridiculous fashion.
- How about the stupid cinema lobby scene which wasn't funny but more like a pathetic student film moment with Mr. Pitt using the broadest possible accent in his Italian. Yuck, yuck - now that's just mega-funny.
- Of course security won't look behind the screen for the explosive film nitrate all stacked nicely for burning. Just because Hitler's coming for popcorn - that wouldn't make any sense to have extra security - or even normal security - now would it?
And how about all that really artistic slow-motion violence? Come on, Quentin - that was old in John Woo's heydey in Hong Kong twenty-plus years ago. Can't you think of anything original? Honestly, have you ever?
Damn it all. This was 153 minutes of stupidity in my life that I won't get back.
Shame on you Adademy voters for putting this miserable dog of a film in with some truly great films. What's next? Transformers III?